Igbo And Ibibio Relationship

The Igbo had established relationships with the tribes of the CrossRiver area, more especially the Ekoid and the Ibibio peoples. The relationships were in areas of trade, warfare, language, culture and marriage.

Some instances or evidences of these relationships include:

The Nsibidi writing system developed by the Ekoid people which was widely used in Igbo land.

The Ekpe and Ekpo secret societies in parts of Igbo land, which originated from the Efik-Ibibio.

The famous Arochukwu Ibinukpabi Oracle, known as the “Long juju” is said to have been originally owned by the Ibibio.

The oracle’s original name was “Ibid Itam” meaning Crown Drum or “Ibid Ukpabi” meaning “Drum of the almighty God”. It was the Igbo that had called it
“Ibini Ukpabi”.

Although closely related and belonging to one linguistic family, the dialectal groups that the Ibibio cluster comprise, many times consider themselves as distinct ethnic groups.

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The Igbo, especially those at the CrossRiver area, have much in common with this cluster which would be examined step by step.

𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐬𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬.
It should not be surprising that there are some similarities and shared words between the Igbo and the Efik-Ibibio, having coexisted for centuries.
Let’s examine these examples:

𝐈𝐠𝐛𝐨 𝐈𝐛𝐢𝐛𝐢𝐨 𝐄𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡
Udele. Utere. Vulture
Okporoko Ekporoko Stockfish
Utazi. …..Utasi. (Herb)
Ụdara. Ụdara. (Fruit)
Uziza. Adusa.
Nne. Nne*¹. … Mother
Ekpem. Ekpeme. Bottle
Mme*². Mmen. Wine
Ñụọ. Nwọñ. To drink
Akpasa. Akpasa.
Ìkó …. .Ìkó ….Cup
Too. Toro. . To praise
Kwá(aka).. Kwak(ubok) clap
Te (ofe). Tem(ndidia). Cook
Ka kan. Greater/Older
Ikpaa*³. Akpakpa. Maize
Ekpa/Akpa. Ekpad. Bag
Nke m. Ake nmi. Mine
Taa. Taa. To chew
Okpokoro. Okpokoro. Table
Luo. Lo(Oro dialect). Marry
(N)ya*⁴ Enye. It/Him/Her
Dibia. Abia(Ibok). Herbalist
Ikpe. Ikpe. Judgement
Maa Maha To slap
Taa. Taa To chew

Also, some Ibibio words were adopted by the Igbo subgroups near the Cross River. In those areas the Ibibio words “Iwa” and “Akpakpa” are used for “Cassava” and “Maize” respectively.

Some verbs may also have been adopted from the Ibibio too. For instance, the Aro word “inyam(avia)” meaning to trade could possibly stem from the Ibibio word “nyam” meaning to “sell”. Other Igbo would say “Izuahia”.

In the past, many people from Arochukwu and Abiriba axis spoke and understood Efik.

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As the Igbo would greet
“Mma mma nu o !”, the Annang of the Ibibio cluster would greet
“Mma !, Mma mma de !”

There are also some words shared by the two linguistic groups but having different meanings in both languages.
Examples:

𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐃. 𝐌𝐄𝐀𝐍𝐈𝐍𝐆
𝐈𝐠𝐛𝐨 𝐈𝐛𝐢𝐛𝐢𝐨
Kpe. To judge. To pay
Di. Husband. Come
Mia. Suck. To Beat
Ụsọ. Sweetness. Father
Afere. Plate. Soup
Iba. Fever. Two
Nwaa This child 2nd daughter
Kaa. To Sharpen. Go
Akwa. Egg. Great
Tie To Crack To sit
Tọ́ọ́. To untie. To hit
Nsi. . Faeces. What-*****

𝐀𝐝𝐨𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬.
Due to centuries of coexistence, some Eastern Igbo groups adopted some Ibibio names. Among the Igbo of Aro, Abam, Abiriba and Ohafia, you could find people with Ibibio names such as Okon, Ekpo, Edidem, EUdoh, Ndem, Ukpong, Inyang, Ukpabi, Okpan, (a modification of Akpan the Ibibio word for first son), Obasi (possibly a modification of the Ibibio word Abasi or borrowed from the Ekoi “Obasi”)

Also, some Annang bear Igbo names like Okoro, Nnamoko, Emacha, etc.

Further more, the names of these towns in Ebonyi State have meanings in Ibibio language:
Unwana, Ikwo and Effium, meaning Light/bright, song and Crocodile, respectively.

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*¹. Sometimes used to refer to an elderly woman by the Ibibio.

*². In some Southern Igbo dialects.

*³ In some Igbo dialects, corn is called Ikpaa and also called Akpakpa although the standard Igbo word is “Ọkà”.

*⁴. Some Northern Igbo dialects use “Nya” or “Nye”.

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